Under-18s end their Merit League fixture with a defeat
Exeter City’s under-18s ended their Merit League fixtures with an eventful 4-3 defeat to top of the league Newport County last weekend.
Two goals from Ben Seymour and an effort from Joel Randall wasn’t enough to inflict defeat on the Merit League champions, as the visitors cunningly punished Dan Green’s men on the break a number of times.
Despite winning the Youth Alliance South West division during the first half of this season, Exeter’s youngsters hadn’t beaten their Welsh counterparts this campaign. Two 2-1 defeats to County had the Grecians wanting a taste of victory over the enemy, and coming off the back of an impressive performance against rivals Plymouth Argyle, an optimistic mood surrounded the hosts’ camp.
However, City started slowly and the Exiles took a 1-0 lead inside the opening quarter of an hour. After the home side’s defence tried playing out from the back, the Newport forwards managed to pinch the ball from a scrambling defence to score the first goal of the game.
The advantage was soon doubled when the pressing game of the Welsh club forced Exeter’s back-line into another error, and they took full advantage of the situation to go 2-0 up and leave Green’s side chasing the game with only 20 minutes played.
The deficit was halved just before the interval when Seymour netted his first of the game. In a smart move, Randall wriggled free of his opponent before cutting the ball back to his teammate, who slammed the ball home to give the Grecians some hope.
But some of those hopes were quickly extinguished soon after half-time when a miss-hit shot was tapped home restoring the two-goal advantage the league leaders had in the game.
On 55 minutes however, the momentum of the game swung again with the score becoming 2-3 courtesy of Randall. In some intricate build-up play, Archie Collins fed Josh Key, and the winger cut the ball back to his fellow midfielder, who brought the teams to within a goal of each other once again.
In a game where both team’s attack was far strong than their defence’s, the sixth goal went in favour of the away side once again when they broke in swift fashion after a City attack.
Despite finding themselves two-goals behind once again, the Devon club managed to remain in the contest when they grabbed their third of the game on 69 minutes. Collins providing another integral moment when his shot was deflected home by Seymour to bring the scoreline to 3-4.
As the hosts came piling forward in the search of an equaliser with 20 minutes to go, they were guilty of some wasteful finishing as a number of chances were spurned with desperation running through the side.
County held on for a deserved three points to assert their authority on the league standings, whilst it meant Exeter ended their campaign in a high-scoring and disappointing defeat, with plenty of positives to take into next season..
Exeter City under-18s coach, Dan Green: “I don’t think we were at our best, and the match provided us with a good lesson - If we aren’t going to be at our best and deal with what the opponents throw at you, then you’ll end up getting punished.
“Two of our goals were well worked which is a positive sign, but we were always chasing the game after the poor start, and that is something we need to take lessons from.
“We now have an Under-17s match lined up in preparation for the younger guys for next year, but overall it has been a positive season for us. I’m glad the boys have progressed and I'll be looking for more of the same next year.”
Exeter City under-18s: Lewis Williams, Sam Haynes, Josh Hancock, Max Gillard, Joe O’Laughlin, Mitch Thomas, Joel Randall, Archie Collins, Josh Key, Ben Seymour, Brandon Parsons. Subs: Lucas White, Jack Sparkes, Harry Kite, Will Dean